Goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, currently plays in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Chicago Fire and is also a member of the US Men’s National Team. Go on the road with Johnson this year as he gives you a player’s view into each MLS city, as only he can do. Take a look:
Hard to believe we are almost halfway done with the season! It’s absolutely flying by. With July peaking around the corner, we concluded our stretch of June away games in Philly.
This has been one of my most anticipated road trips of the year because it meant I would get to hang out with, and more importantly get to witness, the “Mo Show” live and in person. For those of you who don't know (which isn't many) I’m referring to my boy Maurice Edu. He has been one of my good friends for years, and I’ll say there is never a dull moment. There are often times where it may seem like there is a high beam hitting him in the face when taking a picture but he is just that damn good in front of cameras.
So let’s talk Philly! No it’s not “Mo Town”, but it is home to some of America’s most important landmarks and known for its rich history. It’s also a city that’s best known for its cheesesteaks, so I needed to get to the bottom of where I could find the best one. I sat down to dinner with Mo at a restaurant called Buddakan, fantastic Asian fusion by the way, to find out more about Philly. All so I could give you the insider info in case you take a trip to the “City of Brotherly Love”:
SJ: When you hear Philadelphia, what comes to mind?
ME: The first thing that comes to mind is Rocky. Rocky, for Philly, signifies what the city is all about. It’s a hard working culture and obviously one of the first American cities so there’s a lot of history here too. I think Rocky kind of represents the city well in the sense that it’s a city that appreciates the underdog and the hard worker. The honest person that’s going to come in and put in hard work every day and earn everything they get!
SJ: What would be the best time of year to visit Philly?
ME: For me I think the summertime. I’m a little bit bias because obviously our season runs through the summer but also there’s a lot going on in the summer. Whether it’s different concerts or festivals, there’s always something to keep busy. If you’re in the city, there’s a lot going on there. Even some of the cities on the outskirts like, Manayunk, it’s not too far from downtown and it’s a pretty cool city. It’s more of a college scene but there’s a lot of stuff to do there too. Philly has a big concert called, Made in America, actually it might be in the fall – Labor Day weekend I think. The lineup of performers is always crazy, there’s four different stages and it’s a two-day event. People come from everywhere to attend.
SJ: Where can I find the best cheesesteak in Philly?
ME: The names you kind of hear the most are Pat’s King of Steak and Geno’s. For me, the best one I’ve had is at Jim’s Steaks on South Street. That’s the first one I had actually and Amobi Okugo took me there and in his opinion, it was the best one and I have to say he didn’t miss with that. When I have friends in town, or family, that’s where I take them to get theirs. Everyone that’s had it from there has walked away pleased and…kudos to me (he said with a laugh).
SJ: I know you opt for a skateboard or a driver but what’s the best way to commute around Philly?
ME: I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had a driver for the three seasons I’ve been here (he laughs). In all honesty it’s actually a pretty good city in terms of their public transportation system. Whether it’s buses or they have a little subway system or another rail system, they’re all pretty efficient and easy to use. In all honesty, walking is actually legit in the city. It’s an easy way to get around and there’s nothing that’s too, too far. A lot of people bike too.
SJ: What’s your dream car?
ME: For me, since I was a kid, it’s always been a Lamborghini. The Lamborghini doors and how they flip up like that. It’s always been stuck in my head. I had these little toy Matchbox cars and I had a red Lamborghini there and that’s always just been in my head.
SJ: What is the atmosphere like at a Union game?
ME: The atmosphere is intense. Like I said, Philly is a culture where they really appreciate hard work so when they see guys on the field busting their ass and really putting in work and obviously winning, everyone wants to win, they definitely appreciate that. Our fans are honest too. If you’re not playing well, they’re not afraid to let you know that and that’s something we appreciate as players because it shows that they’re passionate. I think our fan base is a special one too, and I’m a little bit bias, but I’m going to say they’re the best fans in the league and here’s my reason for it – to my knowledge I’ve never seen a situation like this one where the fans actually had a support group before the team even existed. They were the catalyst for this team even being born. For that reason alone that shows how passionate they are about the game and how passionate they are about their city. When you combine the sport and the city obviously the fans are going to represent the team well and the city well. Now it’s our job to give them something to cheer about and make them proud.
SJ: Are there any hidden gems in Philly?
ME: There’s a place called Magic Gardens and if you’re in to art, it’s pretty cool. I took a couple friends there when they were in town and to be honest, I didn’t even know about it until this year. It’s like an art gallery in a garden. There’s the Eastern State Penitentiary which is a prison and I think it’s where Al Capone was held. You can go and get a tour of that. And obviously in the city, Center City area, if you just walk around there’s a lot of little cool bars, some with live bands, so there’s enough here that you might find yourself somewhere that you don’t expect and it turns out to be pretty good. There’s also a cool spot called Vesper, just past 15th between Walnut and Locust, worth checking out.
SJ: What are some of your favorite places to eat in Philly?
ME: The one we went to, Buddakan, I love that place that’s one of my favorite places. Sushi, there’s a place called Fat Salmon and it has this roll called the rolling fire and it’s my favorite roll. Have you ever been to Barclay Prime (Sean answers no)? For a steakhouse they have Barclay Prime; they have Del Frisco’s, it’s a chain but that one’s pretty good too; they have Butcher and Singer. Cuban food, there’s a place called Alma De Cuba. The food in Philly is really good. They have this event, I think it happens once every month, it’s called the Night Market. It’s basically in the Old City area and the streets are just flooded with food stops.